There exists many obstacles to revive the marshlands, but through involvement of multiple stakeholders including the private sector is possible to protect the natural resources using constructed wetlands, while delivering basic infrastructure such as wastewater treatment.
- Reviving the marshlands in Southern Iraq by Deutche Welle
- Nature Iraq - An NGO working to protect, restore & preserve the natural environment and cultural heritage
- Miracles in the Marshes of Iraq by BBC Documentary
Iraq is currently believed to generate a total of 580 million m3 of wastewater annually. Proper treatment facilities only exists in the urban areas and typically only for the provincial capitals. Even in the services provincial capitals, a significant percentage of the population does not have their waste sent to a treatment plant; rather it is piped directly into a waterway, or into a predetermined dumping area. Rural areas are almost without exception linked to sewage treatment plants. For example, in Basra, an estimated 45% of the inhabitants of Basra City are linked to a network that sends their waste to a treatment plant, while less than 2% of people outside Basra City have their waste processed. /1
The Hamdani wastewater treatment plant constructed in the 80s is the province's only major treatment facility. It was designed to treat 286,000m3/day, but according to provincial data from 2010, Basra treated 70,000m3/day. /2
In addition to the gaps referred to in the right, poor central planning lead to delays in project implementation. Research suggested that chronic underfunding for operating expenses, preventive maintenance ans spareparts is a serious and ongoing problem for the wastewater projects. In the past tenders was awarded to local contractors, but officials has mentioned that they would like to involve foreign companies for the following reasons:
1) failure of projects implemented by Iraqi companies to be finished in a timely fashion 2) poor project management, 3) absence of reliable statistical data from Iraqi sources to udnerpin the creation of a viable long-term strategy, 4) insufficient number of properly trainied Iraqi personnel to execute larg-scale projects. /2, 3
Highlights of Wastewater Infrastructure Gaps:
- Iraq’s existing water and sewage infrastructure, including treatment plants and pipe networks, is largely in disrepair. Insufficient operating budgets are exacerbated by poorly trained personnel, unreliable electricity, and a tendency to look for quick fixes rather than long term solutions to problems.
- Access to sewage and water networks is marginal in urban areas, and exceedingly poor in many rural areas. This is particular true of access to sewage treatment plants.
- Despite water shortages in Basra, leading to costly damage to the agricultural sector, there is no effective widespread plan currently underway to reuse treated water for irrigation
- Iraqi officials widely feel they lack access to true expertsin creating a comprehensive strategy for adressing water and sewage problems.
- Population growth. Urbanization coupled with general population growth have overwhelmed Iraq’s urban sewage treatment plants. This has led to an increase in raw sewage being dumped directly into waterways.
/1 Water & Sewage Sectors in Iraq, p. 4-5, 9
As explained the Iraqi public sector has been unable to successfully deliver wastewater treatment infrastructure. Again, there seems to be a broad understanding amongst the Iraqi government institutions that they must increase the involvement of the international companies if they are to overcome the challenges inherent in the sector. In the following sections, it is explored if Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) could be the way forward for Iraq.
PPPs aim at financing, designing, implementing and operating public sector facilities and services. Their key characteristics include:
(a) Long-term (sometimes up to 30 years) service provisions;
(b) The transfer of risk to the private sector; and
(c) Different forms of long-term contracts drawn up between legal entities and public authorities.
What's wrong with infrastructure and how PPPs can help: /4
World Bank Group
PPP Reference Guide 2.0
Political commitment - In countries where the rule of law is not firmly entrenched, new administrations reneged on contracts signed by previous administrations.
Regulatory frameworks - Existing legislation in many countries was designed to define public sector responsibility in infrastructure and is inadequate to govern private participation. In addition, human capital such as relevant regulatory expertise is in short supply in many countries without much experience in privately operated utilities..
Conflicting aims—Often one project is expected to serve several policy objectives, e.g., financial, macroeconomic, social and environmental. Protests against individual projects have rebounded on investors rather than the initiating authorities
Award procedures—Award procedures often lack transparency and do not employ objective evaluation criteria. Corruption has been a problem in general. Some projects were compromised by official preference for local participation, preferred sub-contractors or suppliers and the employment of poorly qualified local staff.
Selected challenges for PPPs in developing countries /5
All successful projects starts with a vision. Without a vision, the project will most likely fail. The vision is the framework for project goals and serves as the benchmark to ensure realization of joint objectives.
Understand your partners and key players. It should involve government, non-profit organisations, private for-profit interests and stakeholders. Time and effort are required to gain a full appreciation of, and respect for, their counterparts in a deal.
Be clear on the risks and rewards. Key to having such a partnership produce tangible, positive results is for each partner to understand and appreciate the nature and scope of the opposite party's risks and rewards.
At the same time, constructed wetland systems should be developed to cater for the industrial wastewater / produced water generated in the oil fields to ensure that waterways and the mashlands are not contaminated.
From a PPP perspective it is clear that the Iraqi government does not have the required resources to develop the required studies before tendering the services. As a result, it is proposed to utilize the approach of obtaining unsolicited proposals (USP), which is an exception to public initiation of infrastructure PPPs.
USP frameworks are seen as beneficial to achieving overall objective of governments to identify and prepare economically valuable projects when they lack the human capital and/or financial resources to pursue projects through the solicited approach. The motivations for using UPS are /6:
- Overcoming the governments lack of capacity to identify, prioritise, prepare and procure projects:
- Avoiding a lengthy competitive process in order to implement project more quickly
- Addressing the government's inability to plan and fund necessary infrastructure development; and
- Tapping into the private-sector's innovation and knowledge to identify value-for-money project solutions
1 / Water & Sewage Sectors in Iraq: Sector Report (2013) by Dunia Frontier Consultants
2/ Personal Interview with Eng. Taha Yaseen Mohammed, Director General - Environment South, Ministry of Environment (9th June 2015)
3/ Personal Interview with Dr. Noori Nasir, Head of Marine Environment Research Center, Basra University (9th June 2015)
4/ PPP Reference Guide 2.0, The World Bank Group
5/ Encouraging Public-Private Partnerships in the utility sector. The role of development assistance, (2005), OCED
6/ Unsolicited Proposals - An Exception to Public Initiation of Infrastructure PPPs - An analysis of Global Trends and Lessons Learned
1 / Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands, UNDP website - Link
2/ Reviving the marshlands in Southern Iraq by Deutche Welle- Link
3/ Nature Iraq - An NGO working to protect, restore & preserve the natural environment and cultural heritage - Link
4/ Miracles in the Marshes of Iraq by BBC Documentary - Link
5/ Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility - Link
6/ World Bank Public Private Infrastructure - Link
7/ Handshake - The World Bank Group's Journal on Public Private Partnerships - Link
8/ Public Private Partnership Wikipedia - Link
9/ Public Private Partnerships in the Water Sector, World Bank - Link
10/ Nimr Water Treatment Plant (Oman), A ccommercial constructed wetlands for industrial wastewater treatment - Link
- International Development Aid
- Environmental Consultancy & Contracting
- Sales & Business Development
At present, I am heading up sales & business development for the Omani environmental contractor BAUER Nimr LLC. We deliver services to the public and private sector in:
- Remediation of contaminated sites
- Industrial & domestic wastewater treatment
- Produced water treatment
- Hazardous waste management including Naturally Occuring Radioactive Materials (NORM)
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